Davina and the Vagabonds to bring blues and jazz to the Hardy Center

Davina and the Vagabonds will bring you through 100 years of American music at Cambridge-Isanti High School’s Hardy Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. April 29.

Davina Sowers Photo by Garrett Born
Davina Sowers
Photo by Garrett Born

The band, led by vocalist Davina Sowers, plays a blend of New Orleans jazz, blues, pop and Americana. Their sound includes trumpet, trombone, upright bass and drums, in addition to Sowers’ singing and piano.

Tickets to the show can be purchased by calling 763-689-6189 or online at www.c-ischools.org. Reserved seat ticket prices run between $16 and $20. Tickets are only available by phone or online until noon the Friday before the show. Tickets can be purchased at the Hardy Center ticket window 30 minutes prior to the show on April 29 on a first-come, first-served basis.

Although their music is catchy and accessible, a lot of it recalls music that was popular in the first half of the 20th century. They play both classic songs spanning several decades and original compositions in the same spirit.

Sowers said she feels comfortable writing new music in a stylistic language that was invented before she was born.

“It’s honest,” Sowers said. “The one thing that does make me nervous is that it be trite. … I don’t want to be Dr. Seuss.”

Some of Sowers’ unique mix of musical inspirations comes from her parents. Her adopted father, who was born in 1902, was old enough to have experienced firsthand much of the pre-World War II music her songs recall. Her mother sang folk music.

“I stole all of her vinyl,” Sowers said. “I think it’s just me being a sponge.”

She has been performing since she was a kid.

“I’ve always been a ham,” Sowers said, “even when I was singing in a hairbrush.”

The Vagabonds have been together for close to 13 years. They began almost accidentally. After hearing Sowers sing, someone asked if she had a band and offered her a regular house gig at their club, which is rare for someone unknown. She said yes, she had a band, even though she didn’t at the time.

She managed to pull together a group and woodshed some songs in time for the first show.

Since then, The Vagabonds have turned into a hard-touring Twin Cities music mainstay. They regularly play venues such as the Dakota jazz club in Minneapolis, as well as gigs out of state and overseas.

Sowers, a self-described “mountain girl from Pennsylvania,” appreciates opportunities to bring her show to smaller communities like Cambridge.

“I enjoy bringing music to these gems,” she said.

Davina and The Vagabonds have released two studio albums. Recently they signed to Red House Records, a “great boutique Minnesota record company,” per Sowers, for a third album, which is in the works.